This has got to be the BEST panto I have EVER seen.
From the moment I entered the theatre I knew I was in for a treat. The hospitality was wonderful, a lovely warm greeting as I collected my tickets and programme and being catered for during the interval made this evening that bit more special.
Aladdin, The Wok 'n' Roll panto has to be seen to be believed. It is utterly spectacular from the second you enter the auditorium. The transformation in the Anthony Hopkins theatre was astounding. With chinese lanterns surrounding the stage and across the ceiling, the built out stage and fantastic opening set, you are transported to old Peking before it had even begun. With classic 60s hits being played in the background, you could tell this wasn't going to be any ordinary panto, this was the 'creme de la creme' of pantos.
The talent of this cast blew me away, they had the audience excited and raring to go before they even entered the stage making us feel very special. Not only did this cast tell us a wonderful story, transport us to many places, sing, dance, make us laugh until it hurt, they also played all the instruments to provide all the live music from the stage too.
I particularly enjoyed that fact the stayed in character even while playing their instruments which again shows how talented this bunch really are!
Aladdin The Wok 'n' Roll panto by Peter Rowe us extremely well written. It follows a slightly different adventure to other Aladdin’s I've seen, still incorporating the same characters but in a whole new way. The story moves at such a pace I was shocked when the lights came up for the interval as I was so involved the time had flown by. The script was wonderful with a lot of humour throughout, especially from Widow Twankey played by Sean McKenzie and Wishee Washee played by Henry Roadnight. Someof it made me laugh so hard it hurt (in a good way of course).
Pantos work best when there is audience participation and the cast did a wonderful job of getting the audience involved. There was cheering, name calling, booing and joining in the whole way through making it even more joyful to be in the audience.
The set was unbelievable and left me wondering how they managed half of what they did. Stage manager Paul Sawtell and his team should be very proud of what they delivered as it was perfection. The scene changes were effortless and slick. Costumes were absolutely fantastic, very in keeping with the show with a modern edge, for example,Converse trainers with their Chinese costumes. It really brought it up to date and seemed to add comfort to the characters.
Aladdin was played by Josh Tye and he portrayed the character perfectly, cheeky and mischievous with the most stunning vocals. The range Tye had was awe inspiring and he could move, doing one handed forward springs and the dance moves were effortless.
The Princess was portrayed by Nicola Martinus-Smith and again the vocals delivered were stunning. As mentioned earlier, the majority of the comedy moments were from Widow Twankey and Wishee Washee. For me McKenzie and Roadnight are the funniest Dame and comic lead I have ever seen. McKenzie had the audience howling within seconds of coming on stage. The way he interacted with the audience is a very special talent and some of the ad libs he delivered were quick and on point. He pulled the best faces during some scenes and wore the most fantastic costumes and carried them so well.
Roadnight was the typical panto idiot and he was perfect. There is a fine line when playing this type of role that you can go too silly but he got it spot on. The audience laughed in the right places and certainly felt sorry for him when things went wrong for Wishee Washee. Again he delivered some hilarious ad libs and had the most wonderful vocals.
My guilty pleasure of the evening came in the form of Abanazar played by Toby Lord. Abanazar is the charactereveryone us supposed to detest and boo. Even though I was booing him, his characterisation was brilliant. He made me laugh and he played it in a way I've never seen before and I couldn't wait for the next time he came on.
Choreography by Matthew Cole was spot on, very clean and precise and delivered to an excellent level. Well done to Tayo Akinbode, musical director who did an outstanding job with the cast. Lighting by Andrew Ellis was superb, very inventive and they worked extremely well. Very slick and perfect timing.
If you are looking for a panto to see this festive period, this is the one to watch. Book your tickets today before they sell out which I'm sure they soon will.
Running until Saturday 21st January 2017
Reviewer: Damian Riverol
Reviewed: 29th November 2016
North West End Rating: ★★★★★